This week I read a late 1990’s verse novel on The Great Depression entitled “Out of the Dust” by Karen Hesse. I’m really taking a liking to the verse novels that this class has introduced me to. I’m drawn to their free verse and the ability to read through them in only a couple of hours while still gaining a valuable reading experience. This book was no different. It follows the life of the fictional character Billie Jo Kelby who lives with her parents in the panhandle of Oklahoma during The Dust Bowl. Like all young adult novels the protagonist overcomes a certain aspect of guilt over something controllable or uncontrollable. This book is tragic because Billy Jo ends up a being a major reason for the death of her mother and unborn baby. The free verse certainly adds an element of juxtaposition to the death of the mother. The verse can’t completely dive into and explain the shame and remorse, and the verse is short. Because of this shortness it juxtaposes the complexities of death and personal guilt. This young adult novel also offers a black and white aspect of personal redemption. Is there any young adult book out there that doesn’t offer redemption? If I had my grievance with young adult lit it would be the consistent happy endings. But I say this and at the same time realize happy endings in young adult novels are arrived at by the long way home, so to speak. There is always a major obstacle in the way before a protagonist can be redeemed. Clearly the obstacle in this work by Hesse was the death of Billy Jo’s mother. The Dust Bowl seemed like such a hopeless time for people everywhere in the states, and especially in the Midwest. This verse novel by Karen Hesse is an outstanding piece of young adult literature that should inspire anyone who is quick to forget our Great Depression, and the lives affected by it.